Preview: Burnley vs Liverpool
The dust has barely settled following Divock Origi’s dramatic derby winner, but there’s no time for the team to dwell on it. That’s because a trip to Turf Moor beckons, marking the start of regular midweek league fixtures. The Clarets, who were beaten 2-0 by Crystal Palace, will be wanting to prove a point on their own turf. Being the visitors, Liverpool have to be on the alert, and not let themselves get carried away by their victory in the Merseyside derby. With Liverpool determined to keep up the pressure on Manchester City, here are the talking points for the pre-match buildup.
Fabinho Deserves A Start
On Sunday, Klopp opted to reshuffle his midfield, with Shaqiri and Fabinho replacing Milner and Henderson. Despite the fact that it was their first ever Merseyside derby, the pair didn’t appeared to be fazed. Against one of the most adventurous Everton teams of late, it was Fabinho who shone in the middle. Apart from Alisson, who made a superb stop to deny Andre Gomes, Fabinho was Liverpool’s star performer in the 1st half. And when Liverpool pushed on in the 2nd half, it was the Brazilian that enabled the buildup from the back by making 20 forward passes. Winning 6/7 tackles and making 1 interception, Liverpool’s No. 3 played a hugely important role in helping the Reds secure another clean sheet.
While Burnley may not posed much of an attacking threat, Fabinho deserves a start on Wednesday. His ability to win back possession to immediately transition from defence to attack will be important against the Clarets. Starting him would come at a cost though (more on that later), and Klopp might choose to rotate again. Regardless, if Fabinho continues to show this kind of form, it won’t be long before he becomes a regular starter.
Once again, the trio of Salah, Firmino and Mane drew a blank in a big match. In fact, they’ve not scored against any of the ‘Big 6’ opposition they’ve faced this season. With only Firmino’s winner against PSG to count for, the trio’s inability to make a telling difference in the big games is becoming slightly worrying. As mentioned above, part of the reason could be Klopp’s decision to play a 4-2-3-1 system to accomodate Fabinho. While great at controlling games, the attack doesn’t have the same thrust as before. For instance, Salah doesn’t seem to fit as a lone forward in this system. Just 2 touches in Everton’s box and a saved shot from range sums up a quiet evening for the Egyptian.
Likewise, Firmino continues to struggle in a deeper role, having to relinquished being Liverpool’s focal point in attack. Though he may have scored recently against Watford, he never seemed to be as involved in games as before. Even if his poor form of late merits a place on the bench, something tells me that Klopp doesn’t quite trust his backup options. He’d once voice his uncertainty over Sturridge’s ability to play the full 90 minutes, and Origi’s 6-minute outing against Everton represents his only involvement of the season.
With Mane leaving his scoring boots in October, Liverpool’s attack has never looked this bare before. With the fixtures coming thick and fast, including games against Manchester United and Napoli in the mix, Klopp needs his forwards to be firing. Failure to do so could see potential points being dropped, and Liverpool might find themselves adrift from Manchester City when the New Year arrives.
A Fortress No More
Last season, Burnley earned much praise from fans and pundits alike for the way they play. A solid and disciplined team, they were particularly tough opponents to face. That grit was reflected in their league standing, finishing 7th and thus given the title ‘the best of the rest’.
However, things have gone south for the Clarets this season. As it stands, they’re 19th in the league, above Fulham only on goal difference. Part of the reason is due to their poor home form this season, where they’ll be bottom if only home games were counted. Last season, they managed 1.37 points per game and 7 clean sheets from the 19 home games played. That points per game has dropped to 0.67 this season, with just a solitary shutout to show for 6 home matches. While the sample size may be small, it’s all signs that Turf Moor isn’t what it used to be.
For Liverpool, this is promising news heading into the game. Kopites would probably still remember being stunned 2-0 at that particular venue, a game which Burnley defend resolutely and finished the Reds on the counter. To add on, Sean Dyche’s men have conceded 11 goals against the ‘Big 6’ sides they’ve face this season, scoring none in reply. This, coupled with the fact that Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 5 games against Burnley, means that the Merseysiders simply have to win against their opponents. Anything less than all 3 points will be a big disappointment, which is why there cannot be any slip up come Wednesday.